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Global healthcare IPOs dip YOY in 2019; China most active region in Q4

Healthcare companies raised about $21.82 billion from IPOs during 2019, roughly $2.4 billion short of the proceeds reported in 2018, data compiled by S&P Global Market Intelligence showed.

In 2018, the healthcare sector saw a flurry of IPO activity with total gross proceeds of $24.23 billion, the highest in a five-year period starting from 2014.

IPO activity during 2019 slowed, with 178 healthcare companies going public, the second-lowest number since 2014.

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In the fourth quarter of 2019, 59 healthcare companies completed their IPOs and raised $4.41 billion. The year-over-year trend for the number of companies going public saw no movement. However, aggregate gross proceeds declined over half a billion from $5.03 billion in the last quarter of 2018.

Ernst & Young, or EY, noted in its quarterly IPO trends report that the U.S. health care sector saw the most IPO activity during 2019, with $13.3 billion raised in 73 completed offerings. The professional services firm tracked 174 global healthcare IPOs in 2019, second only to the technology sector that completed 263 IPOs amassing $62.8 billion in proceeds.

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China had the highest number of IPOs recorded for the quarter in the healthcare sector as 16 companies from the country listed their shares on public exchanges globally. That was followed by 15 companies from the U.S., eight from South Korea and six from Japan.

EY noted in its report that 154 companies listed their stock on the Hong Kong Exchange and raised $37.9 billion in 2019, making it the top exchange worldwide based on total gross proceeds and number of IPOs.

Zhejiang, China-based healthcare equipment company Venus Medtech (Hangzhou) Inc. led fourth-quarter IPOs in the healthcare sector in terms of amount raised with gross proceeds of $380.7 million. The company listed its shares on Hong Kong's stock exchange and priced the offering at $4.22 apiece.

Chinese biotech Alphamab Oncology, which develops and commercializes cancer treatments, raised the second-highest gross proceeds for the recent quarter, fetching $269.4 million at an offering price of $1.31 per share. The company's share price saw a 32.4% hike on the first day of trading on the Hong Kong exchange, signaling investor confidence in the company's drug development pipeline.

Buffalo Grove, Ill.-based Phathom Pharmaceuticals Inc., which develops treatments for gastrointestinal diseases, raised $209 million at $19 per share in its IPO. Based on the amount raised, it was the only U.S. company among the top five IPOs tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence during the fourth quarter.

Seongnam, South Korea-based Bridge Biotherapeutics Inc. had the highest per-share price in the IPOs tracked during the quarter. The company's shares sold for $51.63 each, for a total of $36.1 million.

South Korean companies ChunLab Inc. and MedPacto Inc. priced their IPOs at $34.48 and $33.91 per share, placing them at the second and third spots, respectively.

Shanghai Shen Lian Biomedical Corp. had the biggest increase in its IPO price after going public. The Shanghai-based pharmaceutical company saw a 318.3% jump in its stock price on the first day of trading. It raised gross proceeds of $62.1 million in the IPO at $1.24 per share.

Monopar Therapeutics Inc. also attracted significant investor enthusiasm on its first trading day, seeing a 231.3% increase in its share price after going public. The Wilmette, Ill.-based biotech develops therapies to improve clinical outcomes for cancer patients and is evaluating a tablet to treat inflammation and ulceration in the mouth caused by chemotherapy.

EY noted in its report that it expects a modest decline in IPO activity in the Asia-Pacific region during 2020. The firm believes the Americas region will have an active IPO environment in the first half of the year but noted that it expects an increase in market volatility due to elections in the U.S.

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